A summer get-together is all about casual entertaining and this means keeping things simple—from the menu to the table arrangement. The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of vibrant seasonal produce and make your food part of the tablescape. Here are several ideas you can try for your next summer party.
Corn is a summer staple, whether grilled, steamed, or broiled. When choosing corn, look for bright green husks and glossy silk. The tassels should be brown and sticky when touched. If the tassels are brown or black, this means the corn is old. Check for plumpness by feeling each ear through the husk. Try this grilled corn with honey butter from Picture Perfect Meals.
Tomatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables (or fruits). You can add them to salad, use them as toppings on homemade pizza, or grill them for a quick and easy side dish to kabobs. Fresh tomatoes should have a deep red color and skin free of bruises. The stem end should have a strong, earthy scent—the more fragrant it smells, the more flavorful it will be. Try this heirloom tomato caprese salad by Family Circle Magazine.
You can prepare summer squash in a variety of ways: steamed, grilled, roasted, or even raw. Add them to salads or serve as a side dish to grilled meats. When it comes to picking summer squash, the smaller it is, the better. Large ones tend to be bitter and have bigger seeds. Make sure the skin is bright and the stems are firm. Try this summer squash pasta from Scaling Back.
Roasting is the best way to get the most out of beets. Preparing them can be messy, so make sure to cover your surface areas. Select beets that are heavy and firm to the touch. They’re often sold with the greens still on, so check that part for freshness. Try this beet salad with watercress and pecorino from Food & Wine.
Watermelons are mostly made up of water and this is why they’re so refreshing. Cut them up and serve fresh or toss them into a salad. When picking a watermelon, weigh it between your hands. Big or small, it should be heavy for its size. Check the underside for a yellow splotch; this is the part where they sat on the ground and ripened. Try this grilled haloumi and watermelon salad by Camille Styles.
Peaches are one of the highlights of summer harvest. They’re great for pies, cobblers, and muffins. Choose peaches with a fragrant scent and those that yield a bit when pressed. Avoid the ones that still have a little green on them or are still hard to the touch. Try this recipe for poached peaches with almond syrup from the Gourmet Traveller.
There are different types of cherries, but one of the most popular is the Bing variety. Their gorgeous deep red color is an indication of freshness, as well as the bright green stem. Use them for pies, cakes, and tarts or add them to sorbets and parfaits. Check out these 20 cherry recipes from Cosmopolitan.
Vibrant, colorful, and packed with flavors, a mixture of summer berries is always a treat, both for the eyes and stomach. A big bowl of fresh berries is great for snacking and even doubles as a pretty centerpiece for your dinner table. Bake them into pies or add them to your favorite summer coolers. Try this mixed berries galette from the Tartelette Blog.
Visit your local farmer’s market and get your produce there to make sure you have the freshest ingredients. If you only have time for a grocery run, stick to seasonal produce as they probably spent less time in transit. With these ideas, your summer affair will be laidback, giving you more time for conversations with friends and family.by